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Monday, September 14, 2009

Chasse's fatal wounds were from kicks or knee-drops

It's been three years this week since Portland Police Officer Christopher "Thumper" Humphreys and his partner caused grievous bodily harm to Jim-Jim Chasse, a scrawny, mentally ill man who Humphreys says may have been urinating on a tree. Humphreys and his companions then allowed Chasse's serious injuries to go untreated -- Humphreys even took a coffee break at a nearby Starbucks -- and Chasse wound up dying in the back of their patrol car.

At the time, the official story was that the "accidental" death was caused by Humphreys "falling on" Chasse as he tackled him or as Chasse "fell." The medical examiner was a big contributor to that story. And of course, the Multnomah County D.A. never prosecutes killer cops -- never.

Willamette Week helped propagate the official story as well:

Did police beat James Chasse Jr. to death?

It's not totally clear, but probably not.

None of the interviews with a half-dozen civilian witnesses details a higher level of violence than the three officers involved described in their statements: several punches and kicks and the application of a Taser (which didn't seem to have much effect).

State Medical Examiner Karen Gunson says the massive injuries to Chasse's chest were not consistent with individual punches and kicks. The injuries are consistent with what most witnesses described: one or more officers landing on top of Chasse.

But now, gee whiz, a different story is coming out. Here is the next-to-last paragraph of the latest story on the incident from the O -- 18 paragraphs down from the top of the story:

In depositions in preparation for the federal trial, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy said Chasse suffered 46 separate abrasions or contusions on his body, including six to the head and 19 strikes to the torso. Fractures to his back ribs also probably did not result from Chasse getting knocked to the ground or someone falling on top of him, but more likely resulted from a kick or knee-drop, state medical examiner Dr. Karen Gunson said.
That's not what she said when it happened. Meanwhile, we get more official pap about the cover-up. The O leads with this:
Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer said today she expects the police internal review of James P. Chasse Jr.'s death to be released before Chasse's civil lawsuit goes to trial in federal court in March.
Wow, that's exciting news.

The uniformed people who killed James Chasse should have gone to jail. Instead, they were not disciplined, at all. That's Portland, and the media around here seem fine with it. Shame on them. Shame on all of us.

Comments (22)

No justice until Humphrey's is behind bars. Death by cop. Totally disgraceful. Totally disgraceful.

What should our communities punishment be for allowing mentally ill citizens roam the streets? What should his family's punishment be? Where is their responsibility?
What would you do if you were (ahem) Mayor about allowing street people of all sorts to hold the downtown area hostage,to be terrorized by homeless teens, winos, mentally ill, and junkies?
What if you were a cop with no power and no enforcement tools? You could only talk and yell at them every hour and every day? (Oh and give every one of them a business cards) Day in day out, would you take it out on your family and friends or the creatures that roam the streets?
Yes there is no excuse to kill them but think about what happens in the mind of a cop when he is subjected to this kind of predicament.
This is in my opinion OUR fault! And a symptom of a broken and corrupt government.

The bottom line is that our laws are supposed to apply to everyone.

@ Pointy Finger:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

There's no allowing abut it; Mr. Chasse had a right to be there, just as much as you and I. Yes, he needed more help than we gave him. And yes, the cops need more support as well.

But letting someone off the hook for an obvious manslaughter just because he's a cop is no way to help anyone.

BTW, the news that Chasse was kicked or knee-dropped to death is not really news. The O ran a story about this over Fourth of July weekend, and we blogged about it here and here. But that continues to be the most important part of this story. It should not be the next-to-last paragraph.

Every time I see something on this story online, I see these same many-times-debunked lies about Chasse's care and living circumstances. Here's the truth: Chasse's family was closely involved in his life and care, which was appropriate and continuous. Because he wanted to, Chasse lived independently in housing appropriate for his condition and circumstances WHICH MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO DO. Chasse had done absolutely nothing wrong. He was killed for perfectly PEACEABLY looking goofy and vulnerable in a public place WHERE HE HAD EVERY RIGHT TO BE. Much as the downtown business association wishes it were otherwise, it is not illegal to be ugly, goofy or poor in public.

By all accounts, the police officers involved were poorly trained and out of control. They stood over Chasse, who was bleeding from the mouth, as if they had just hit a deer with their car. Humphreys, who brutalized the poor man, went for coffee. They went through his backpack or pockets and scraped up breadcrumbs, saying they were traces of drugs.

And no discipline, at all, for anyone? It couldn't be any uglier. But as I say, that's Portland.

you got this one right on the money Professor. They killed this guy for little or no reason. Because he was unable to comply with shouted orders, didn't understand what was happening to him, attacked with no apparent reason.

Thank God I no longer live in Portland.

I'm going to quote from my old blog with a question I first asked in November of 2006. It was directed at the coroner:

"You say the fatal injuries occurred when an officer fell on the man during the take-down - ribs broken in 26 places. Then a terrible struggle broke out. The man fought intensely; he writhed around, he tried biting the officers. It went on and on, and the officers delivered blows, but you say this wasn’t when the fatal wounds occurred. No, that happened before during the tackle and fall part of the pursuit.

I just have one question: How does a guy with that many broken ribs from a fall to the ground and an officer landing on him, put up any kind of fight at all? Doesn’t it make more sense that the injuries occurred not during the fall but during the fight? Doesn’t it figure that the officers caused the fatal blows? I mean he didn’t pass out when he hit the ground - no, he went on fighting the 3 police. How does a man so badly hurt do that?"

Okay, back to now: If you're a football fan you might have seen Donovan McNabb get hit in the back this weekend, cracking a rib. He was immediately in a lot of pain and left the game.

It's another clue that a man with Chasse's multiple broken ribs wouldn't have been able to fight. Yet this man with all these injuries fought on? There's no way.

This wasn't a matter of further reflection: The official story was obviously not true from the beginning - it never made any logical sense. And now that it has served its purpose, it can be safely discarded. All that has happened since is the story has been corrected to reflect what we already suspected to be true - unless all the laws of reason and medical science just happened to be suspended that day.

What does that say about the people whose job it is to investigate these things?

How would you characterize their behavior?

It's amazing that even when these things stink to high heaven right from the beginning, no one in power in Portland insists that justice be done. Tom Potter, this one's on you.

Fortunately, this guy's family has some resources, and they appear to be pursuing this for the sake of the truth; money is only a small part of it, and obviously it will never bring their loved one back.

Boy the wind has shifted and how comments have changed.

Want to help? Read and sign our petition to be delivered September 17 asking Sam, Dan and Rosie to release the PPB internal investigation.


Any truth to the street talk that Chasse had occasionally been a punching bag in his adopted community long before the police incident.

Jack, I wish the police union and management would see when this type of stuff goes on without consequences it screws every one especially the honest cops. This month I served on a jury that involved a defendant that had been hit so hard, while cuffed, that it broke the officers hand and knocked him unconscious while he was alone with the defendant. It didn't take long for six everyday folks to find "reasonable doubt" that the defendant who had been charged with assaulting a police officer was probably scared sh**less, drunk on his butt, and flailing out. The other officers who testified, one who the jury did find the defendant guilty of attempted assault and resisted arrest, were credible. It was one of the hardest things to do and against all my instincts to not believe the defendant and support the police officer. But with all this crap that goes on in Portland "Reasonable Doubt" was there. I wish that for the sake of the two "good cops" we heard, and the other great guys and gals on the police force, and even the guy we had "reasonable doubt" about who broke his hand. That the union and department can realize that some of these folks just don't have the temperament or self discipline to be Police officers, and get them off the street to protect the reputation of the force and safety of both the police officers out there, the public, and the mentally ill.

I have always thought that the Portland Police Bureau and the union should be tried on federal RICO charges because there is a long pattern and repeated sets of criminal behaviors that go on and are encouraged and tolerated and not dealt with. And unlike other states there is no state wide organization to investigate malfeasance by local cops. Everything is up to the locality - you know the foxes policing the chicken coop.

Boy the wind has shifted and how comments have changed.

Nothing has shifted. Read back through the links Jack provided. And search out and look at the others that he didn't reference. The doubt about the cop's official story, and the unwillingness of the DA's office to pursue the matter, has been there since the beginning.

It says a lot also when the best we can come up with for Multnomah Sheriff, is dredging a fellow up from retirement who can't even pass the police accreditation exam. I don't know what Skipper was like in his prime, but really, and his predecessor, well we won't even go there.

Thank goodness for Steenson quietly carrying the torch on this.

here's something that's kinda unusual.

"Cop Charged With Assaulting Unarmed Man"

...Humphries should find a more suitable position. Maybe over at the PDC where those tactics are more appreciated.

Jack please stay on this story.

The conduct of the cops, prosecutor, ME and media is disgusting.

D.A. is smug garbage. Long past time to discard him. Karen "Gunner" Gunson needs to be run out on a rail. What a piece of work. And those kind of cops are more mentally ill and dangerous than just about anybody loose on the streets. Insanity defense, comin' right up? ("When all else fails, we can whip the horses eyes....")

Down here in Eugene I am busy trying many things to persuade the police to buy 60 Tasers with built in cameras. I would rather they not be stocking up on Tasers at all so the built in cameras are just mitigation. Any city government purchasing Tasers should be forced to buy the ones with the camera feature. This issue interests me because I was shot for no reason with a "less lethal" round in 2003. The police video of that event is posted here: www.youtube.com/luddite333 Police later invented a story about me trying to attack them for the newspaper and radio coverage.

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